Canine trauma kit vs first aid kit... What's the difference?

There is a distinct difference between a trauma kit and a first aid kit.  But the contents of each are often overlapped and intermingled when we discuss what goes into a “med kit.” So, it can get kinda confusing.

So, in an effort to clear the air I want to briefly describe and define the two.

Consider this article a quick introduction and a bit of a “teaser” for what is coming next week…

Which is the official launch of my podcast!!!

And in one of our very first episodes we are going to break this down for you further.  I will share with you my recommendations on what to include and what to exclude when we are talking med kits for your dog.

Let’s get right down to it, shall we.


So, what is a trauma kit?

A trauma kit contains equipment that is utilized with one goal in mind. And that is to preserve life until higher care can be reached.

There are certain injuries, conditions, and ailments where the actions taken in the first few seconds and minutes are critical. And these actions will determine if the outcome is successful… or not.

Therefore, location, familiarity and ease of access should all be considered when deciding what type of trauma kit to get and where to store it when it isn't in use. 


Examples of conditions where a trauma kit might be used:

  • Massive hemorrhage from trauma
  • GDV (if the dog is in a remote location or transport must be delayed)
  • Shock- anaphylactic or otherwise
  • Airway obstruction
  • Chest Wall injuries


… just to name a few.


Examples of equipment you might find in a trauma kit:

  • Tourniquet
  • Quik Clot- or other hemostatic impregnated gauze
  • Airway management kit
  • Israeli Bandage
  • Decompression Needle


A quick note about the above equipment list; the skill level of the person carrying must be taken into account. Therefore, multiple items on the list above might not be appropriate for use without training.


What is a first aid kit?

On the contrary, a first aid kit is going to be more “everyday” items. Equipment and items that can be utilized for conditions or injuries where higher care might not be necessary. In other words, it can be employed in less critical conditions where the dog is stable and will likely recover without professional care. Often times the items within a first aid kit can be used safely with some basic training and/or general education.


Examples of conditions where a first aid kit is appropriate:

  • Minor cuts/lacerations/abrasions
  • Mild muscle soreness
  • Mild inflammation
  • Minor sprains
  • Mild abdominal discomfort or GI symptoms
  • Mild allergic reactions


Again… not an all-inclusive list but you get the idea.


Examples of equipment or items your might find in a first aid kit:

  • Benadryl
  • Non-steroidal anti inflammatory
  • Basic bandaging equipment
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • GI medications
  • Granular clotting agents- ie kwik stop


So, in the ideal world, if you are at home or car camping you may want to consider having both a trauma kit and a first aid kit readily available.

But… we know all too well that this is not always possible.  Sometimes we need to prioritize what we bring and intermingle the contents of both the trauma and first aid kit… and put them together in a med kit.

How do you prioritize what to bring?

What you need to bring is going to be highly variable and will depend on a couple different factors.

And we will discuss that next week inside our brand new podcast!!!!

In the meantime, I hope this article got your wheels turning so you are ready to further the discussion. 


More details regarding the podcast launch: 

  • When: The official launch will take place 2/10/19 at 5:00AM EST… just in time for your morning commute!!
  • Where: we will be available on itunes, stitcher, google play, spotify, pandora, Tunein, Anypod... and you can listen right here under the "podcast" page!
  • How: You will be notified when we launch via email (if you are subscribed to our mailing list), social media (be sure to give me a follow so you don't miss out!), or you can check right here under "podcast"! 



So be sure to give the new podcast a listen!

I will also have a few interview style episodes published at the time of the launch. In these interviews we are chatting with some very interesting, like-minded, and dog friendly folks that are sure to inspire you!!

So, get excited! And if you are subscribed to our mailing list be sure to check your inbox first thing Monday morning!!


And never hesitate to reach out to me with any questions!

Until next time,

Libbie Fort, DVM










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